Buckie native Drew loses 20st
A BUCKIE native whose weight rocketed out of control has lost more than 20 stone to walk his daughter down the aisle.
Drew Donaldson (62) topped the scales at 33st 13lbs, but shed nearly two thirds of his body weight in just 15 months to ensure he could play his part in Chloe’s big day this summer.
The former Buckie High pupil, who lives in Cheshire but still has family and friends in Moray, is also looking forward to getting back on the golf course, having taken up the sport during his school days.
“I want to get back on the old golf course,” he said. “I will need to build up my stamina first though.
“About 15 months ago, I was just able to walk across a pavement so I will need to build up my muscle tone to go three or four hours around the course.”
Drew, who now weighs just over 13st, said he feels like a new man, both mentally and physically.
“It has been brilliant. Considering what my health and my immobility was from when I started in November, 2014 to where I am now, I’m a different person.”
A sports fan in his youth, Drew was an active youngster and on finishing school, joined Shell’s tanker division as a navigating officer. He sailed around the world before taking up an onshore job.
But sustaining a broken elbow while playing cricket in his early 50s, coupled with the inactivity of desk work, saw Drew’s level of movement vastly reduce.
With his three children having flown the nest and he himself having gone through a divorce, he had no-one to run around after at home, and his waistline began to expand.
“When I broke my elbow I couldn’t do anything. It was just a downward spiral for a number of years as I didn’t change my eating habits, I still ate as much as I did, but didn’t have the golf or any of the other activities that I used to carry out. As the weight piled on and piled on, I got depressed.”
The downward spiral lasted for nine long years until Drew – a self-confessed failed dieter – barely recognised himself.
“As my weight grew, my health problems became increasingly dangerous. I was borderline diabetic and have to get my blood checked at the GP’s surgery regularly.
“I had to wear a special mask when I was sleeping because I had obstructive sleep apnoea. I had high blood pressure which I was on high medication for; I took pills for gout.
“The fat was slowly killing me,” he said.
Every day, he would start a “new diet” by trying to eat more healthily and exercising more. It would last until night, when he would eat huge meals and snack on big bags of dry peanuts, family-sized bags of chocolate and crisps.
It was after visiting his GP, Dr Jill Scott, that he was pointed towards the LighterLife weight loss programme. Drew swapped normal meals with four foodpacks a day, choosing from meals, bars, porridge, soups and shakes. He also attended weekly same-sex group sessions with a counsellor, using techniques in order to help him identify why he was overeating and put strategies in place for the future.
Drew wasn’t hungry and found it liberating not to be thinking about food all the time. And as the weight began to drop off – losing 21 lbs in the first week – he was spurred on to keep going.
Now, he said he feels like a new man. “I feel like I did when I was a teenager, I tell you. It is an amazing feeling, I have to say,” he said.
“Before, I had a walking stick and if I walked anywhere I couldn’t speak to anyone for about 10 minutes until I got my breath back. I had to use my car to drive to the shops and only ones I could park right outside the door. I did feel imprisoned by my lack of mobility as well as the pain and the breathlessness. Even in my flat I didn’t move about unless I had to. If I was going to the kitchen I’d think, ‘Right, what do I need to get to save me having to walk back this way again later?’ It was a case of restricting any movement as it caused me so much discomfort.
“Now, of course, I walk everywhere so I meet a lot of folk that I haven’t seen in years and I have to reintroduce myself to some of them as they don’t recognise me.”
Drew said he was happy to share his story in the hope it might help other people feeling the social and physical isolation he experienced.
“You really think you are all alone. You think you are the only person who has that problem. It was when I went along to a group meeting that you realise everyone is in the same boat.
“All of a sudden, you are not alone and you have this camaraderie and you spur each other on,” he said.
Inspired by her dad, Chloe has also joined LighterLife and has lost five stone in preparation for tying knot in the Lake District this June.
Drew, who is now retired, said an added bonus of becoming one of LighterLife’s ‘biggest losers’ was reconnecting with old friends from his childhood after speaking out about the experience.
“I’ve still got a lot of friends in Buckie. Just before Christmas, I signed up to Facebook and it is just fantastic. There is one girl I hadn’t seen since I left school in 1971 who lives up the Black Isle area and she got in touch. It is an unintended consequence, getting in touch with all my old buddies... but a great one,” he said.